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Chambersburg may tighten curfew

December 20, 1999|By DON AINES

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. - A night on the town could become prohibitively expensive for juveniles if proposed changes to Chambersburg's curfew law are adopted next year.

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The existing ordinance allows fines of $10 for each offense, according to Borough Councilman Carl Helman.

Under a proposal from the Third Ward Community Task Force, the fine would jump to $50 for a first offense, $75 for the second and $150 for the third and subsequent offenses, the Third Ward councilman said.

"Our main focus is the safety of the children," said Helman, who presented the proposal to the mayor and council last week with fellow Third Ward Councilman Scott Thomas. "They're exposed to all kinds of potential dangers."

The proposal also includes what Helman called a "junior curfew" for children 12 years of age and younger. The existing curfew for children under 18 is 10:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 11:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays.

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The junior curfew would become 9:30 p.m. weekdays and 10:30 p.m. on weekends.

Helman said that when the issue was discussed at Wednesday's council meeting, Police Chief Michael T. DeFrank said many older teenagers have jobs, activities and other legitimate reasons to be out up to the current curfew limits.

The proposal was given to Borough Attorney Thomas J. Finucane for his review and to draft an ordinance, Helman said. The issue could be put to a vote in January, he said.

"The purpose is to change parents' behavior as much as children's," Helman said. Increasing the fines could make parents take more responsibility for children who violate the curfew, he said.

"It could have a residual positive effect on crime" by keeping children from being exposed to illegal activity, he said.

The Third Ward Community Task Force was formed in March after a fatal shooting in downtown Chambersburg.

Helman and Thomas are members of the task force, but Helman said stiffening the penalties for violating the curfew will be good for the entire borough.

The existing ordinance allows violators to be incarcerated for up to five days, but the task force did not recommend any change in that part of the ordinance, Helman said.

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